NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
Dr. Robert R. Seyda
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
CHAPTER TEN (Lesson XVIII)
Professor F. F. Bruce concludes that believing then confessing is the order of both logic and experience of a sinner’s emancipation from sin’s bondage into the freedom of God’s grace. The two clauses say essentially the same thing: believing and confession are as inseparable as justification and salvation. Both are given a prophetic reference in verse 10 with the use of (“unto righteousness … unto salvation” – KJV) – cannot be separated from one another.1 From a Jewish perspective, verse ten reads: “For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgment and thus continues toward deliverance.”2 This shows the prophetic aspect even clearer.
Douglas Moo offers an interesting interpretation of verse 10 from a personal perspective. Moo writes: “When my wife and I were living in St. Andrews, Scotland, we frequently encountered a passionate, though overenthusiastic evangelist. She roamed the streets all day and much of the night, accosting people and loudly proclaiming to them her own faith and the need for them to ‘turn’ before they ‘burned.’ In a conversation with her one day, I asked why she had such zeal for evangelism. She quoted Romans 10:10b: ‘It is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.’ Confession with the mouth, she argued, was clearly set forth as a requirement for salvation, and she was determined to make sure that she fulfilled the condition.”3
It is obvious that her use of that text was a case of reading too much into the Scripture that wasn’t there, to begin with. When Paul used the terms “heart” and “mouth” in Romans 10:8 it is a quote from Deuteronomy 30:14. Paul was using these words as an illustration of how it was fulfilled in the preaching of the Gospel and the response to the Gospel. Nowhere does Paul say that you must go around telling everyone that you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior in order to stay saved. Of course, there is nothing wrong with witnessing to others about your experience. But when interpreted the way the lady evangelist did in Scotland, then your heart must find a way to vocalize its agreement with what the mouth is saying with equal fervor.
Jewish scholar David Stern gives us his view, after examining what Paul says here. He noticed that the tense of the verbs: declare, believe, raised and saved refer to action taking place at a specific time. But in verse 10, the tense of the verbs: believing and confession often implies continuing action. This should not be a surprise since we usually admit that we came to believe and trust in Christ at a particular point in our experience. But if we want to continue toward being right with God and prepare ourselves for deliverance on the day of His return, we must go on believing and trusting as we continually acknowledge our faith in the One who saved us.
But there is another factor. We must ask ourselves what is the significance naming Yeshua’s Lordship and pointing to His resurrection as two necessary “articles of faith” essential to righteousness and salvation? The key begins with acknowledging Yeshua as Lord of our lives. The Greek word Paul uses for “Lord” is kurios, If he were writing in Hebrew he would have used Adon, from which we get Adonai. So to acknowledge Yeshua is Adon implies committing oneself to obeying Him as Master.4 This is what Paul meant when he told the Philippians that God exalted Jesus to a place of highest honor and gave Him a name that is above all names so that every knee in heaven and on earth would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus is kurios – Adonai: LORD.5
Verses 12-13: It says this because there is no difference between those who are Jews and those who are not. The same Lord is the Lord of all people. And He generously blesses everyone who looks to Him for help. Yes, “anyone who calls on the name of Adonai will be delivered.”6
This doesn’t mean that Christians will never suffer shame, reproach, embarrassment, or disappointment for the cause of Christ. Rather, Christ will see to it that no one will suffer such atrocities after having been abandoned and forsaken by this world. You won’t come to the end of your Christian life and find that there are no vacancies in heaven. Your reservation was issued at Calvary and sealed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.7 So Christ’s promise is forever true.8 Christ does not just give His all to you, He gives Himself to you, which is His all. There are no copyist’s errors in the Book of Life if you have been born again your name is there. For with Paul, “We are persuaded that He is able to keep all that we committed to Him until that day comes.”
Another thing that Paul wants to emphasize is that no one should ever be ashamed to call themselves a Christian. Too often, stigmas are attached to groups because of one or two things that other members of that group have done or said, and as a result, the whole group suffers the embarrassment and vitriol. But being a Christian does not mean you belong to one particular church or denomination, it means you belong to Christ as His disciple. You may be embarrassed by some action, doctrine, or church rule that your group may take or stand for, but you never need to be ashamed that you belong to Christ.
In Jeremiah we find it put in a way that echoes Psalm 1: “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water—a tree not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit.”9 And even though something said or done in your past may make you feel uncomfortable, remember what the Apostle Peter said in quoting the prophet Isaiah: “See, I am sending Christ to be the carefully chosen, precious Cornerstone of my church, and I will never disappoint those who trust in Him.”10
Apparently, there was some tension in the Church in Rome because Gentiles were being allowed to worship there and were considered as equal believers. Paul told them that when the world looked at them they should not see Jews or Greeks, they see Christians. Paul agreed with what Peter said to those gathered at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation those who reverence Him and do what is right.”11 Later, Peter shared this same sentiment at a meeting between Paul and the council in Jerusalem when he said: “God, who knows men’s hearts, confirmed the fact that He accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He gave Him to us. He made no distinction between them and us, for He cleansed their lives through faith, just as He did ours.”12 So on this matter, Paul had Peter’s backing.
Then, when we look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see that this concept was already well-established in his mind early on in his ministry. He told them: “We are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free men or even merely men or women, but we are all the same—we are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus.”13 Clearly, Paul is not suggesting that all racial, ethnic, or gender differences were altered or removed at conversion, but that in spite of all these variants, in God’s eyes He sees us as equal in His sight. This is no doubt a reference to the bias and discrimination that existed between the races, ethnicities, and genders in his day. When writing to the Ephesians, Paul put it this way: “He [God] has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were very far away from Him, and to us Jews who were near. Now all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, may come to God the Father with the Holy Spirit’s help because of what Christ has done for us.”14
Then Paul reemphasizes the point when later on he writes: “This is the secret: that the Gentiles will have their full share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God’s sons; both are invited to belong to His Church, and all of God’s promises of mighty blessings through Christ apply to them both when they accept the Good News about Christ and what He has done for them.”15 Understandably, this was a truth that Paul felt compelled to share everywhere he went. As he told the Colossians: “In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Christ is what matters, and He is equally available to all.”16
What makes this union so successful, isn’t that we all belong to the same organization or follow the same forms of praise and worship, or conduct all the ordinances the same way, but that we all have the same Lord. After Peter’s vision on the rooftop of the tanner’s house in Joppa, and his introduction to the Gentile congregation at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea, Peter told them: “I’m sure you have heard about the Good News for the people of Israel – that there is peace with God through Jesus, the Messiah, who is Lord of all creation.”17
So both Peter and Paul were not introducing Jesus the Jew to the Gentiles, but Jesus the Lord of all creation. Not only was this a fact at the time of creation, but Paul told the Philippians it would be true all the way until the end. He wrote: “God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”18
Paul wanted everyone who heard him teach to have this understanding. That’s why he told his young protégé, Timothy: “He [God] longs for all to be saved and to understand this truth: That God is on one side and all the people on the other side, and Christ Jesus, Himself man, is between them to bring them together, by giving His life for all mankind.”19 It is also somewhat confusing to the world when we refer to each other as Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, etc. as if that’s the way God sees us.
1 F. F. Bruce, F. F: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., Vol. 6, p. 202
2 Romans 10:10
3 Douglas Moo: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit
4 David Stern: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.
5 Philippians 2:9-11
6 Joel 3:5 (2:32)
7 Ephesians 1:13
8 Cf. John 14:1-3
9 Jeremiah 17:7-8
10 1 Peter 2:6, quoted from Isaiah 28:16
11 Acts of the Apostles 10:34-35
12 Ibid. 15:8-9
13 Galatians 3:28
14 Ephesians 2:17-18ff
15 Ibid. 3:6
16 Colossians 3:11
17 Acts of the Apostles 10:36
18 Philippians 2:9-11
19 1 Timothy 2:5